September 30, 2014

Grave grève

A big day in France for the national pastime of striking. It is a surprise to find anyone working today as debt collectors, notaries, court clerks, justice administrators, lawyers, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, nurses, opticians, massage therapists, accountants, realtors, driving school directors, insurance agents, and -- wait for it -- retirees are all on strike. (These latter are protesting a lack of increase in their pensions. Still, one does wonder, how does a retiree make their displeasure felt while on strike? By going back to work?)

Pharmacy Number 1: ON STRIKE
The group drawing the most attention, however, is the pharmacists. There has been considerable chatter about allowing some products that are currently only available in pharmacies -- a fixture of French towns small and large, the glowing green cross lighting a beacon for the sick -- to be sold in supermarkets. Pharmacists are making a case that their relationship with their patients is too important to allow such purchases to be made without their wise counsel and advice. Additionally, they are concerned that small town pharmacies will close as a result, which will contribute to the “desertification” of rural France. Lastly, they are worried that such moves will launch a fleet of chain pharmacies, which will, by necessity, be located in places where the rent is cheapest and not where the need for a pharmacy is greatest.

The Parisian pharmacist interviewed on the radio this morning spoke of the “dehumanization” of our world, claiming that the local pharmacy had replaced the post office as the only place left where people could still rely on genuine human contact in their daily lives. His utopian spirit aside, the radio host had a difficult time masking her incredulity when she pressed him on what harm would come if consumers could go to the supermarket and buy ibuprofen or aspirin. His voice rose up with indignation, explaining that soon consumers would be getting medicine that made the store a profit but didn’t help heal the consumers’ ailments. The conversation ended brusquely, surely because the man thought it was well nigh time to take to the streets.

Pharmacy Number 2: ON STRIKE
Happily for a couple of ex-pats in Burgundy, the pizza man was at the stove, and we had a wonderful lunch.

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